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Monday, January 12, 2015

Tess Summary of Month 4

Are you sitting there thinking to yourself "man, I sure would LOVE a mega long, overly detailed, picture filled blog post to read right now!" If the answer is yes, then this post is for you :)

This is my first monthly summary for Tess and it doesn't even cover the entire 4th month of her life haha You can read about the first week of this month of her life here. :) 

Nursing: This month Tess started nursing much quicker for most of her feedings! She also stopped being as "hardcore" with eating and would often stop to "talk" and look around. My FAVORITE time with her is right when she finishes nursing. She cuddles in my lap and we talk and I just love on her. I know that when I look back someday at her time as a baby, these are the moments I will cherish the most. I especially love the first feedings of the day as I always just have her in a diaper. That sweet baby skin is the BEST!!!

Bottle: I had my big breakdown this month. The bottle issues with Tess were really what put me over the edge with the PPD. I took her to church and she wouldn't eat from the bottle. I can't remember the last time I cried so hard. Like I legit shouldn't have been driving home!!! I got home with her plenty before Zach and the big kids did (they stayed for an event after church) and I was SO frustrated. I opened all the bottles we had. I tried them ALL. I even tried to get her to drink from a zippy cup. A regular cup, Heck even a dang syringe! 
I wasn't frustrated with her and wasn't like crying or sobbing or anything when I tried all those methods. I just NEEDED her to be drinking from something other than me. I LOVE nursing but need a break too!!! Looking back it was pretty hilarious because I kept trying all this stuff and Tess was just smiling and laughing while wearing breastmilk all over her dress haha!
The same week of that breakdown was when I realized I needed to get some help for my struggles. I also decided to give the bottle a little break and not push myself with it. When Tess got RSV later that month it was, in some ways, a blessing. We were leaving for Disney that day and I was SO worried about her being sick that I totally forgot to be worried about her drinking from the bottle while we were gone! She ended up doing GREAT and I think actually leaving her for a little bit so she had to drink from the bottle really helped. I'll be doing a bottle help post soon including all the tricks we tried with her! 

Schedule: This was a BIG MONTH for Tess. She started the month out on the 3.5 hour schedule with dream feed. So she was eating at 7, 1030, 2, 5, 8 and 10:30. 

She had a LOT of sleep issues this month, as you'll see below. And by the end of the month her schedule ended up being the 4 hour schedule without the dream feed. So it was 7, 11, 3 and 7 for her feeding times. You can read more about the switch I made in her schedule here!

Just for reference I moved her to the 4 hour schedule first (on Saturday Nov 8th...she was 14 weeks old). I moved the schedule by waiting to feed her for the 10:30 and instead feeding her at 11:00. I didn't transition it slowly, I just jumped to it. I had a BUSY day planned (always smart to be busy when changing the schedule) and it worked out great! She ate at 11 and then slept awesome until 3 and we were officially moved :) 

Leading up to the 4 hour schedule change...I had been trying different things to help Tess's sleep issues improve. One of the things I tried was extending her awake time length. She did fine with 1 hour and 30 min of awake time so I went ahead and made the move to the 4 hour schedule which would allow her 2 hours of awake time and dropped a nap!

I dropped the dream feed on Sunday night Nov 23rd. She was 16 weeks old. My oldest baby to still have a dream feed but she was also my worst night sleeper! So it made sense that I held onto it as long as I did. With that I did the same thing, no transition. I just stopped feeding her for it. 

Here is what her schedule looked like by the end of the month:

6:45-7:10: Up for the day! Nurse
Sometime during awake time: 15 min of independent playtime in pack and play
8:45-9:00: Down for nap (give paci if needed mid-nap)
10:45-11:10: Up from nap, nurse 
Sometime during awake time: 15 min of independent playtime in pack and play 
12:45-1:00: Down for nap (give paci if needed mid-nap)
2:45-3:15: Up from nap, nurse
Sometime during awake time: 15 min of independent playtime in pack and play
4:45-5:00: Down for cat nap
6:00-6:15: Wake up from cat nap
6:30-6:45: Bath
6:45-7:00: Last feeding of the day, straight to bed after feeding
If wake during night: let cry it out

Sleep: Really her entire sleep battle is well documented in this post about the 4 month sleep regression. Tess was having NO issues going down for naps or for night sleep. But she'd wake 45 min into every nap and would randomly wake at night off an on (nothing consistent. Sometimes she'd sleep solid all night, others she'd be up multiples times).  I tried MANY, MANY tactics to improve her sleep (again, they are listed in this post). 

If I'd known I'd have a baby who didn't respond well to CIO then I'd have gotten a totally different swing. We have the Mamaroo and it's SO inclined that I'd have to semi-unswaddle her to be able to buckle her in so she wouldn't slide out. Needless to say, it disrupted her even more. She did best on the "car ride" setting and would, typically, fall back to sleep when I used it for her mid-nap wakings. I never used it at night and I'd always turn it off once she was asleep!

One thing I tried was to take one hand out of the swaddle. I was thinking (hoping?) that maybe she'd suck her fingers like Britt did and it'd magically solve all of the issues haha! It didn't help!
She did take to her fingers...but it was more of an "oh wow cool I can put my fingers in my mouth" kinda thing than a desire to actually suck on them.
Eventually I decided to try the paci for her mid-nap wakings. When I did CIO she'd never fall back to sleep and I could tell she DID want to suck on something. So if she woke mid-nap I'd let her fuss a little then give her the paci for the remainder of nap. It worked like a charm and since I never gave it to her at the start of naps or during the nights, I don't think it's becoming a "sleep prop" and whenever she'd sleep solid for a nap she, obviously, wouldn't have the paci at all. My thought was once she got over the 45 min intruder issues that she'd never need a paci!
I always laugh at the paci marks around the mouth!
Tess may not be the most solid sleeper...but she ALWAYS wakes with a smile!
By the end of the month my friends Kelly and Laura had suggested going ahead and weaning her from the swaddle. Since she wasn't sleep great anyway, it made sense just to be done with that too. Rather than getting her sleep issues fixed only to have to go through transitioning from the swaddle later on! I've never weaned a baby from the swaddle this young. You can read how I weaned Kye here and how I weaned Britt here. With Tess? I didn't do a slow weaning process. I just did that junk cold turkey. Which would normally freak me out but at that point in the game I was pretty much a hot mess (PPD was in overdrive haha) and I was tired of trying different things with her sleep issues. I was just like WHATEVER! (so not my usual self right?!?!). So I took Laura and Kelly's advice and just put her to bed without the swaddle. It was Nov 27th when I dropped it and she was 17 weeks old. She struggled that night with sleep...but she'd been struggling anyway so I really didn't notice much of a difference!

By the end of the month I was feeling good about where we were with Tess's sleep. She really is JUST LIKE KYE. Britt was an awesome sleeper but was more difficult while awake (fussy, cried easily, didn't like car, etc). Kye wasn't that great of a sleeper (tons of nap and night wakings!) but was very easy-going during awake time (happy most of the time, good in the car, etc). Tess is just like her brother! Which is frustrating for the sleep, but a blessing for the awake time. I finally got to a point where I knew for my own mental state I just had to find something that worked for me and accept that it may not be my personal ideal situation for sleep for Tess.

For naps I'd let her fuss if she woke mid-nap. She'd fuss for 15-20 min (giving her the chance to fall back to sleep on her own) and then I'd give the paci to allow her to finish nap.  We also made her third nap of the day a true "cat nap." We put her down around 5 and then wake her up by 6:15 so she has some awake time before her bath and bedtime. 

At nights I realized she just had to cry. I would turn down the monitor, Zach would go sleep upstairs (he's a light sleeper)  and I'd just let her work it out. She had MANY nights where she'd be "sleep crying" (eyes shut and seemed to be asleep but was crying) and would cry for over an hour. I had tried everything else and nothing worked so I just let her do what she needed to do and tried my best to sleep through it. I committed to having her CIO at night on Nov 17th. (she was 15 weeks old) and it took just a couple of days and I could really tell a difference! She woke less often and put herself to sleep quicker! We got through it and are on the other side of the sleep issues now! Praise the LORD :)

Outside: One of my ways of working through my PPD was to go outside more often. Even just for 10-15 min at a time would help me breathe fresh air and absorb some vitamin d. Luckily we had some beautiful weather and Tess enjoyed the outdoors with me!





Zach also got down our infant swing for the playground! She looks thrilled huh?
Tummy Time: Tess rolled from tummy to back for the first time when she was like right at 4 weeks old. Crazy! She did it quite a bit for awhile and then just stopped doing it. This month she started rolling again! On Nov 16th she started rolling and it did make her enjoy being on her belly more! 

Independent Playtime: Tess is BY FAR my most easy-going baby. She does awesome for her independent playtime. I use a pack and play in the dining room and have it set up with toys that she can reach. I use a LOT of links to connect together and then put a toy on the end of them ;) I set a timer for 15 min and leave her in there. It's a great location because I can hear her in the kitchen but she can't see me AT ALL. Sometimes the kids are home and they will talk to her and such during this time and I just let them because she isn't bothered by it one bit. She seems to enjoy her independent playtime and I do 15 min of it 3 times a day with her right now. She hasn't fussed for it yet!

Other Seats: During awake time I aim for her to do tummy time, independent playtime, and we spend a LOT of time just spoiling her with kisses and snuggles ;) I also will vary where she sits and tend to use a bouncer and a swing for times when I can't hold her. I know a lot of people love baby wearing. I used my sling a couple of times with both Britt and Tess and I just don't like it!!! It's just not for me :) 

Able to reach and grab her toys!
We typically use the swing for the time she's up from her cat nap until bath. It's something nice and relaxing for her and allows us to finish dinner!
Talking: I remember fondly when Kye and Britt would "talk" during diaper changes to the decals/pictures on their walls above the changing table. Tess has several vintage travel postcards framed above her changing table (we made sure that one of them is of Capri, Italy where we came up with her middle name!). She talks to them a lot but especially looks at and "talks" to the intercom system haha! Here's a video
Reading: I am truly blown away by Tess's attention span. I think the Lord gave me a child like me (Kye), then a child like Zach (Britt), then another child like me haha. Since Tess and Kye are so spread out I tend to forget how he was as a baby and usually am comparing her to Britt. And Britt was SUCH a different baby from Tess! She was all over the place and just wild from Day 1. Tess is very calm and loves just whatever life brings her way. She loves to sit in my lap and will listen to any story! 

Yes, she even enjoys Angelina books. Like the entire book. Which those beasts ain't short!
Big Sister has finally started to enjoy reading too haha only 2 years older than Tess is :)
"Razz": Everytime I read that babies are supposed to "razz" I always think "do babies really do that?" I remember Lorelai did it as a baby but NONE of my kids EVER have done that?!?! This is the closest thing Tess came to it and she was just blowing a couple bubbles and it's the only time I've ever even seen her do that!
Teething: Teething has begun with Tess but I don't expect to see any teeth soon. She has been a pretty easy-going teether so far. She has some drool, but not much. And does love to chew on things! She chewed on her fingers a good bit this month and did seem to take to her thumb. I really thought once she was out of the swaddle that she'd be my thumb sucker but it didn't happen!


Cousin Time: I'm so blessed to have such a great friendship with Casey and I LOVE watching our babies grow up together :) Carter is 8 weeks older than Tess :) 

Baha I love this :)
Wrestling already ;)
When we told Casey and Jordan that we were pregnant I had these onesies made to surprise them with the news! You can see the post about it here :) It's CRAZY to think our babies are already big enough to wear them!





Hair: Tess is adorable and precious and sweet. She has the most clear, perfect skin. Gorgeous blue eyes and a smile that will instantly melt your heart. Even with all those great qualities I know that Tess will always be remembered as the baby with all the crazy hair ;) 

Even though her hair looks very dark...the roots are actually coming in very light!
It also is mega curly when she gets out of the bath?!?! I am SO interested to see how her hair ends up being as she grows up!

Whenever I look at my sweet baby girl with her CRAZY hair style...I can't help but think of Kate Gosslin ;) 
More About Tess This Month:
  • On Nov 6th (14 weeks old) she found her feet!
  • Tess knows her name and will look at us when we say it
  • When I dropped her feedings down, she stopped spitting up as often
  • She is VERY vocal and moans all the time...I'll admit, I'm a moaner so this is another "mommy trait"
  • She started pooping more often this month
  • If she has a poop diaper she will get fussy! It's like one of the only times she fusses haha
  • She is a bouncy baby and loves to be bounced on my lap
  • Tess bares weight on her legs and LOVES to be held in standing position
  • She gives the BEST big open mouthed kisses :)
  • She is a rather sensitive baby as far as she doesn't like a lot going on in her face at once (however, she has two siblings so poor kid ALWAYS has someone in her face!) she will fuss when Zach kisses on her when he has a beard.
  • She also likes playing "airplane"
  • She is THE HAPPIEST car baby I've had! Which is a HUGE blessing!
  • Since she is so vocal I think she'll end up "talking German" like Kye did. He was hilarious as a toddler when he was talking b/c he just made up a bunch of words and it sounded like a foreign language whereas Britt has always had a clear, well-spoken vocabulary
  • Here is a video of her grunting, here is one of her talking in my lap after nursing, another of her sweet baby sounds, a video of her talking to her bouncer toys, her adorable sweet laugh, and me singing "itsy bitsy spider" with her
  • Even with all her sleep issues she is so content and happy! 
  • I know I say this all the time but I love her so much I seriously HAVE to squeeeeeeze her!
  • She wears a size 2 diapers and I did start putting her in some 6 months stuff but really the 3 months still fits fine!

This sweater is one that my grandmother (my dad's mom) knitted for ME as a baby!













Britt had the goofy picture smile even then haha
Here's Tess wearing it (she's almost a month older than Britt was...Tess is my smallest baby!)

Postpartum Update: Welllll. I remember talking to a friend about postpartum depression and she said when she looked back at the memories during the time period when she was struggling with PPD that she saw those memories in black and white. I totally get what she meant by that!!! This month was when my issues came to a head and I realized I truly did have PPD. I believe I had been struggling with it for awhile but just didn't really realize it. Once i realized I had it, I got help immediately, and almost immediately after that I began feeling better. You can read about my feelings during my experience here and how I coped with it here

Looking back now on this month I do see it in a sort of fog. I remember a lot of what I did, but I don't feel connected to those memories. I don't think I had a severe case of PPD. I never felt like I wanted to hurt myself or my baby. I always loved her and was so thankful to have her, I just felt overwhelmed with LIFE and upset about my position in it. I'm pretty good at making myself snap out of funks and choose happiness. When it becomes impossible to be happy...that's when you know something deeper is going on! So I'm very, very thankful for my supportive friends and family who were there for me when I wasn't quite myself and who helped me get back to being ME! :) 

These are some of the pictures I took during my healing time :)

Sleep issues made it HARD for me. Tess has a super mega sweet cry and hearing her cry broke my heart. I think hearing crying babies gets harder and harder the more babies you have. Many times I'd end up having to walk out of the house and sit outside (and cry myself). I didn't mind these moments of holding her while she slept...and sometimes falling asleep a little myself ;)
The week I realized I had PPD I started doing things immediately to help myself feel better. One thing I did was just get out of the house. I took Tess and we ran errands. During her nap time. We went to Hobby Lobby and to Carter's. She slept better in the car seat for that nap than she had a nap at home in awhile! I was able to be around other people, get things done, and ENJOY some ME time! It was something I needed and I felt better after doing it (side note but it was a one time thing haha I am kinda a "nap nazi")
I also really put efforts into going outdoors. I'd spend time with just Tess and I outside as well as with the big kids when they were home. I used to LOVE laying out in the summers...I am not a huge "outdoors" person but I do love some sunshine!
One of THE biggest steps to help me heal was to have a victory. Struggling with Tess's naps and bottle issues made me feel like I was failing. I needed a WIN. So I decided, spur-of-the-moment mind you, to take all three kids on my first outing solo. We went to Hobby Lobby and each kid picked out their yearly ornament for their Christmas tree in their bedrooms. It took us 45 min total. We accomplished our mission and made it home before Tess's nap. It may not be a big deal to most people...but for me? It was HUGE. I felt like a million dollars!!!
I also took all three kids to the doctors office so the big kids and I could get flu shots. I remember seeing Crissy with her four kids at the doctor and thinking to myself that I didn't know how she did it. She was solo and I was there with Zach and had to have his help to make it to the appointment. There was something significant to me about taking my kids myself somewhere like that and doing it successfully. It helped me feel like I could handle my new normal. That I didn't need help in order to do it. That I could do more than "just survive" the day and could thrive each day instead!
Another big thing I needed to do was take time for myself. I needed to get out of the house more and do things I enjoyed doing. It was hard since Tess didn't take a bottle, but I needed it and I needed it to be a priority. Zach was SO supportive!!! Now that Casey is a stay at home mom too she "gets it" and needs her breaks as well ;) I'm so thankful we have each other!!!
Robyn has been a HUGE part of my healing process as well. She came by one afternoon and while we were outside talking (I was doing my "daily outside vitamin d time" when she came by!) a TON of lady bugs were EVERYWHERE. I've never seen that many lady bugs before. They were all over my house, landing all over us. It was like they were confused and thought they were love bugs rather than lady bugs ;) I have always heard that lady bugs bring good luck and it felt so significant that so many were surrounding us during a week where I really needed to feel uplifted. I'm not saying that they were some sign or something, but it was hopeful and one of those neat moments that felt larger than just a coincidence. 
I believe a LOT of my issues were a delay in the adjustment period of having three kids. I had a LOT of help when Tess was first born. And I'm not saying I don't appreciate that help in the least...but I think by Zach being home more, by Mrs. Charlotte helping so much, it just kinda delayed me having to adjust. While there were benefits to having that process delayed (I was healed from giving birth, I had an older baby rather than a newborn, etc) there were some negatives to it too. I think the biggest negative was that I just kept feeling like some kinda of failure. Like "okay my baby is three months old I should be used to this by now. What's wrong with ME that I can't handle my own children on my own!?!?!" Yes, it was all in my head. And I was being hard on myself and I was just not in a good place or even close to a "normal Emily place." I'm a big believer in the "4th trimester" and that the first three months of having a new baby is a BIG adjustment period. Whether it's your first or third kid. It's just a tough time. And this time was especially tough on me for many reasons. I'm thankful to be passed it now. I'm also thankful that it never got too serious. While this time period is foggy for me, I did truly still cherish my time with Tess and was always grateful for her! 

One of the big ways I had help was with the big kid's school drop off and pick up. Taking Tess and doing it myself was a big thing that helped me feel better. It messed up her schedule so I didn't do it every time yet, but it made me feel like I was being the mom to ALL my kids :) 
Sibling Comparisons: You can look back at Kye's 4 month summary here and Britt's 4 month summary here.  I know a lot of people comment on how much Tess and Britt look alike. Do y'all still see it? As far as comparing all of my babies Kye and Tess are for sure the most alike. You can tell in Kye's post how he was for sure battling the 4 month sleep regression issues just like Tess did at this same age. I'm so thankful for blogging as it helped ME feel so much better reading about Kye while dealing with Tess. When you have kids you forget things so quickly and I reference my own blog constantly to help me remember things! If baby #4 ends up following the same trend then I'm sure I'll be reading back at all of Britt's posts for that baby haha!

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